Each Thing a Thief: Walter Benjamin on the Agency of Objects

Philosophy and Rhetoric 44 (4):382-402 (2011)
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"I have a tree, which grows here in my close, / That mine own use invites me to cut down, / And shortly I must fell it" (Shakespeare 2001, 168)—Timon's lament, which in Shakespeare's rendition occurs shortly before its utterer's demise "upon the beached verge of the salt flood" (2001, 168) beyond the perimeter of Athens, is an indictment of the nature that Timon finds unable to escape. Having given away his wealth in misguided generosity to a host of parasitic sycophants, Timon turns misanthropic when his "friends" reject his requests for help in kind to repay his debts, eventually exiling himself from the city with the intent of sustaining himself on nothing but water and roots. Yet he soon finds that removing ..
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